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...Last Resort, Home Sweet Hellmouth...

Since the bright lights seem to make my head hurt worse than it already does I had Wesley turn the lights off for me and pull the curtains to make it seem as dark as he possibly could. I don't know when I dozed but sometime shortly afterwards I did, I think the spell that Wes tried to work was what caused my exhaustion, besides the fact that oh hey I'm still laid up in this freakin' ammonia soaked morgue they call a hospital. He thought the spell would help, he'd called the Hyperion and gotten in touch with Lorne who'd gotten in touch with another friend of his that had sworn on his life and the hair of his mother's chin that this was a sure bet, turns out it was a flop. So much for that. I could feel the disappointment and the sadness coming off of Wesley in waves that it was all I could do to assure him that it was going to be okay, as I gritted my teeth together, grasped his hand in mine, turned my head to face him that I knew beyond reasonable doubt that Faith and Gunn would take this big nasty down and it wouldn't be too much longer that I would have to endure this.

I don't know if it worked or not because he could hardly look at me. The man wore the face of someone who felt like he'd just let the whole world down. I don't know what was more painful the new lacerations and burns that had appeared as an after effect of the spell we'd just tried to work or the look he wore on his face that told me he was hearing his father's voice inside his head again calling him a failure and telling him that he would never amount to anything and that's why the Watcher's Council had let him go because no matter what he did or how hard he tried he would never live up to his father's expectations. Sometimes I hated that man and I didn't even know him. Wesley was one of my best friends, he was family and I couldn't stand to see him down on himself at least not on my watch. That's the funny thing though right, watch, who was watching who?

Was Wesley watching me or was I watching him and protecting? I think we were doing a little bit of both from each side. I squeezed my eyes shut from the overwhelming amount of pain that had enveloped my body and had wrapped itself around it so tight that I almost found myself having a hard time trying to breathe. I could feel the wetness behind my eyes threatening to coat my thick dark lashes and spill over and I willed myself not to let that happen, because hey I still had my pride you know. Besides I'd done enough crying it was time to buck up and kick this big nasty in it's menacing ass and to do that I needed my strength back and I needed it back like yesterday. Of course that wasn't going to happen anytime soon if Faith, Gunn and Fred didn't get back to the hospital with the supplies and the address they needed to get this mission kicked off full swing in gear.

God I hope they hadn't ran into Angel because the last time he and Faith were in the same room together it felt like any minute they were ready to pounce and go to it, toe-to-toe, eye-to-eye and worse fist to fist for the throw down match of the century. I have no doubts that my Slayer could kick ass all she wanted to, but a part of me did sort of still feel sorry for Angel. And to be honest I guess a part of me always would because no matter how much I wanted to stomp it down or ignore it, the fact was a part of me still loved him and I knew that I hurt him. But that still didn't give him the right to burst into my apartment, ignore my wishes and preceded to intervene in something I thought I had made perfectly clear to him.

Beside me I could feel Wesley squeezing my hand tighter and felt his forehead against the back of it, he spoke in a soft voice that shook me to the core.

"I am truly sorry, Cordy. I had thought this would work. However, I didn't realize that it would make things worse than they were already. Though I don't understand what could have gone wrong, we did everything that we needed to do in order for it to work. I wonder if..."

It was when I felt a slight wetness on the back of my hand that I realized he had been crying. I don't know for how long or if it had been just a few tears, but still they were a few too many. Maybe it was from emotional exhaustion because lets face it we'd all had a rough few nights and it didn't seem to be getting any better the longer we waited and worked on finding a cure for all of this crap. Everything was just so emotionally overwhelming that I wasn't sure when or how much time had elapsed from the time I had felt myself dozing off until waking up to loud voices and talking, no more like shouting, coming from the hallway.

Though the door I could hear Faith's voice loud and clear. She was arguing with Angel. I knew as soon as he found out I was in the hospital he would come, he always did. He gets a little hard headed when it comes to the people he cares about, but sometimes he needs to understand that maybe those people don't want him around. And at this particular time I really didn't. I had enough to deal with witout the added guilt trip. He's fine if he wants to head down broodsville, but he doesn't need to be taking me along with him for the ride. We'd been through far too much for him to even try that route.

Damn it. He should know better.

"You wanna play tortured lovers? Call up Buffy. But don't put your crap on C when she's all laid up like this. Save it for after we kill the demon, yea?"

I felt a surge of pride well up in my chest at the sound of Faith's voice. And I found myself mouthing, "Right on, Faith. You tell him."

And I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the little Buffy comment. That ought to sting him really good. Serves him right for coming when he really wasn't wanted or needed. I couldn't begin to remember a time when I, ahem, we really didn't need him, oh wait yes I can. It was right around the time he went oh say crazy and let Drusilla and Darla kill a bunch of lawyers. You know before he got even more psychotic than normal and tried to burn them up and then manage to knock up Darla. I think it was about the time Wesley was shot in the gut and he had the nerve to show up at the hospital trying to act like he cared when it wasn't but a few weeks before that he'd fired all of our asses when we called him on his psycho behavior. And I'd let him have it then just like Faith and the rest of them were letting him have it now.

"What makes you think she's going to die Angel? Do you not trust her in our care? I can assure you that allowing Cordelia to die is the last thing on our agenda. In fact, we've already formulated a plan to cure her."

I mumbled my own voice of added approval. I knew that out of all of them Wesley would be the one to fight hardest for my life, Faith was a given, but Wesley. He and I go way back and I knew with him on the case I had nothing to lose and even more to gain. Like Angel he was one of my best friends that I knew I could trust absolutely with my life. And right now he was litterally holding my life in his hands. But I also knew that with Faith, Fred and Gunn he'd have all the back up he needed to get the job done. The truth about Wesley, all he really needed was for someone to believe in him, to believe that he had the power and he had whatever it took in him to carry out the job the way he needed to. I don't doubt his capabilities. Okay, so yeah maybe I have in the past but there's definitely no doubt now. He still works the best mojo in town. And I trust him absolutely with my life. I mean, I have no choice right now. I have too.

And this time it's not just me that's at stake. Faith factors into all of this mess now somehow.

"That's right, let him have it Wesley. Good for you. Finally get to show off your leadership qualities."

I moved my head slightly to the side so that I can try and get a good peek of them out in the hallway. And I can see Faith blocking the door glaring menacingly at Angel trying to keep claws and fists in tact, Wesley standing protectively in front of her with Gunn and Fred on either side of him. If Angel thinks he's getting in through the door he'll have one hell of a protective shield to get through. I sigh softly and think, "I love my dysfunctional family."

And it occurrs to me that this may be all that I have left and I have to relish it, because if Faith, Gunn and Fred don't get to this demon and Wesley's spell doesn't work I might not get to see them again because I could be oh you know all of what...dead. And that thought is enough to shake me to the core as I start to feel warm liquid pooling once again behind my eyelides. I close them tight for a moment trying hard to shake off this round of emotion but it's hard, it's so hard. I've known pain but I've never known pain to this depth before. And it just keeps getting worse.

I thought for a long time that if I ever got to hear Angel say he loved me I would be able to say it back to him, I just never thought that there would ever be a day when I actually didn't want to be around him. And right now, I really didn't and I was grateful that everyone around me knew that, especially Faith. I wouldn't mind hearing her say that to me. But who am I kidding, the closest thing to that I'd probably get would be one of those rare smiles she only saves for me and a "Come on Cor, don't make me say it when you already know it."

And oh damn, was it way too soon to be thinking that? You know love, the Slayer and maybe wanting to hear her say it back to me someday in the near distance future when I was um you know not so much with the dying and more among the living again and hardcore shopping again. And this is all so surreal to me, I've somehow managed to fall in love with Faith. I hadn't meant to and I don't know exactly when it happened but I knew that what I was feeling was way more than just a friendy type thing, it went deeper. It was like we had some sort of strange connection that hadn't been there before, but it exists now.

And I want to tell her but I know Faith and she'll freak on this one. So maybe I'll just keep it to myself for a little while longer and then I'll tell her when we find a cure for this and I'm okay. But the thing is, I'm scared. I'm really scared and I'm not sure if everything is going to be all right. I wonder if she'll ever love me the way she loved Buffy?

God we're an unlikely pair aren't we? What with Angel and Buffy. But still there has to be scars, a part of her that just can't shut that off. It's sort of like me with Angel. And I'm left wondering this as I watch the look cross her face as she leans down to kiss me before she leaves with Gunn and Fred to go after the demon trying to kill me. You know that look that says, "I haven't fully healed from that yet so back off and leave it alone". So I make a promise to myself that no matter how much I want to be nosey and ask, I won't. I'll try to wait until she's ready to tell me or until she's forced to actually face Buffy which will probably be sooner than she may realize.

The only thing I care about now is her soft pouty lips carressing mine as I kiss her back. I have to almost bite back a smile at the smug look on her face and the stern one on Wesley's. I know there must be a million and one things going through his mind when he looks at us and I give him credit for trying, but it's so funny to see him being all stern "demon now, snog later".

And I almost snicker at the visual of him in my mind actually saying that. I know he never would cross that line now because there's some things we perfer not to discuss, but at least he respects me enough to try and understand. And I think he does on some level, he just hasn't sifted through all of it yet.

I give Faith's hand another squeeze and watch as her and the rest of walk out of the room leaving Wesley and I alone again. There's something I have to talk with him about and I knew I couldn't do it with Faith there because I didn't want her to see that I wasn't as brave as she may think I am. Plus I didn't want her thinking I was trying to get in the middle of her and the whole Buffy ordeal.

Believe me I'd had my share of that with the whole Buffy and Angel drama. But I knew that if Faith and the rest of our little gang wasn't able to contain the demon, get the information they needed and the spell didn't work my life was going to end. We were going to have to call home sweet Hellmouth for help.

And that meant bringing in the Scoobies which also meant bringing in Buffy. That also meant resulting in Faith not being too happy about that. Add that in with an already broody Angel and a former watcher rival with Giles and you have the ultimate recipe for disaster.

As much as I hated to it, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea. Maybe Willow could work some magic with Wes and see what they could do together. If I know Giles he's got books that I know Wesley probably hasn't seen before and I know Buffy's got the strength of ten men and forty vampires, the same as Faith. It's the in the job description, pretty much a given. I close my eyes and think real hard about it for a second and then realize in the next the decision has been made.

Letting out a slow breath and after talking it over with Wesley and finding him not too happy with it but more understanding than Faith would be, I slowly nod at him. I'm too exhausted to form the words but somehow I find it in me to do so, "Do what needs to be done, Wes. This is more for her benefit than my own, trust me. The last thing I want to do is bring Buffy into all of this mess. But if we don't, then I risk my life. And I can't do that to Faith. Not now. I won't."

And I am adamant about that last part. I won't. That is not up for discussion, not debatable at all and he knows this. So he does the the only thing he can. He makes the call.

Sunnydale ;; 11:00 p.m. ;; Tuesday night

"Hello...yes, yes. I know that. I'm calling because we need your help. Cordelia is in danger of losing her life. Shes um, well. She's dying, if you must know. And I'm afraid we need your help with finding the cure. You can, good. I'll see you then."

I watched him hang up the phone. It was done. And now the only thing left to do was wait...and tell Faith. I turned weary eyes towards Wesley and felt a tremendous amount of guilt. What was going to happen if they waited too long and I died?

I didn't want to think about that so I closed my eyes and tried to picture Faith smiling at me just before she ducked out the door to go chase after the demon that started all of this.

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